Thursday, 13 February 2014
Actually, there is a good question that has recently emerged -- namely, when and how to use macroscale biokinetic knowledge in the process of teaching the golf swing to someone. In fact, it does not matter whose swing we take into account, a rookie golfer's or Tiger Woods's one (we shall return to this prominent name later on) -- the procedure has to be exactly the same. The sad fact, that today's golf instruction is so ineffective and that more and more golfers stop playing due to their frustration has its roots in lack of understanding of the macroscale importance.
It is to be pointed out that the macro approach must always govern the micro one in the sense the latter has to move in the frames of the first one which determines the fact that one needs to run macro studies on the very beginning of the swing golf analysis. There is one very important issue, however, that must initiate the whole procedure -- namely, subject's state of health in general. It should be examined what eventual biomechanic limitations one's organism has and what is the origin of them. No further steps can be taken if there is a suspicion of being dangerous and harmful for a subject's organism or a suspicion of deepening the gap between one's actual state of health and the norm. This is beyond any dispute. But let us start describing the procedure on the example of a healthy human.
First, the general idea of the main goal ought to be determined. Although the most desired goal is to gain automatism, it is of crucial importance to get to know what is most important for a subject -- to gain consistency or distance. The answer "both of them" is idiotic and does not bring anything serious; it must be either the first or the other, since the methodologies and procedures of teaching are vastly different. Of course, in case of a rookie or badly educated golfer we shall achieve both goals working only on one of them but let us talk about higher skilled adepts. Consider two golfers -- a tour player who wants to score better vs. a ReMax contender who wants to be more competitive. Both would appreciate implementing automatism -- the first to be able to hit fairways and greens automatically the other to hit as long as possible driver shots auotomatically -- both letting their subconscious mind take care of everything having already left all conscious thoughts in the setup phase. However, the means to a goal are different, i.e. some procedures that are excluded might not only appear to be allowed but sometimes even desirable. My researches were always aimed at gaining automatism of repeatability and consistency, even at the cost of losing some distance here and there. Therefore, I can invite everyone interested to a lecture of my articles on this site as well as watching my visual material in the form of quite a few short films published by means of YouTube. If, on the other hand, someone wants to add distance it is worth to find a good specialist in this matter both in tuning the motion from the biomechanical point of view with a pretty good medical knowledge as well as in body fitting.
Secondly, we need to determine a subject's eyedness, handedness and footedness as it will give us some clues as regards one's anatomical preferences and expected biomechanical behaviour. That will force some variations both in set up as well as in the action -- vide my articles dedicated to the subject of laterality. Some of them are more likely to appear and less likely to be rooted out as they seem to be linked tightly to one's subconscious mind. The rule of thumb is not to change anything by force, but to try to adapt it the way it is both acceptable and subconscious-friendly. Unfortunately, golf swing instruction, in the course of all these decades, left lots of myths and blind holes, some harmlessly ridiculous and some plainly dangerous.
Thirdly, the procedure can enter the phase of the main macro coaching that is aimed at automating the motion. It is of utmost importance to work on a one established trajectory without attempting to work on shot shaping. Ben Hogan was famous to work on having one universal trajectory for all clubs in the bag. We do exactly the same with the same pre-swing procedures and, consequently, with the same basic swing motion. A subject should achieve at least partial automatism thanks to building the setup-dependent subconscious-friendly motion. Some of elements are indisputable and non-negotiable as e.g. diagonal stance (with various amount of diagonality used individually), biokinetical grip (with individual approach to the rear hand position in relation to the lead one) or trigger compression aimed at starting the motion sequentially from the ground up and from the core out etc. -- while some are just optional, or better said, it is more freedom of choice of the execution of such element, as e.g. antithetic waggle or lead foot toe work, etc.
Finally, having benefitted with all boons of the macro procedures a subject is ready for a coaching in the microscale that deals with fine tunings of the full swing, of one's short game and putting, mental training and also course play wisdoms. It is the time to use some useful tools like Trackman, putting labs or pressure mats, etc. The crucial point is that no matter how brilliant a microscale instructor is he is not allowed to omit the macro recommendations unless he/she wants problems for his/her students. Unfortunately, the vast majority of instructors do not pay any (or too little) attention to macroscale studies. Therefore, they are simply bound for making mistakes (somewhen huge ones) that their students pay for. The biggest price is always paid when a student is deprived of possibility to play his/her peak golf -- no matter if we talk about a hacker who cannot break 90 or a tour pro who cannot win tournaments. Let us see it through the prism of one of the greatest golfers that ever lived.
Tiger Woods in quest for breaking three legendary records -- Nicklaus's 18 majors, Snead's 82 wins on the Tour and Hogan's status of being the best ballstriker in history -- has undegone quite a few changes in his swing motion. I will not deal with microscale details here and criticize his coaches because I am not a microscale instructor and my knowledge is inadequate in this field. However, I am competent enough to state that all of them appeared to be indolent as regards macro procedures and, therefore, arguably most talented golfer ever is being stuck while the clock ticks louder and louder in his ears. He has some mechanical swing flaws, he is still unable to perform a decent (not mentioning a great) tee to green game, especially with his driver, he must bear his contusions that his staff was neither able to prevent nor able to replace his swing with motions that both relieves the possibility of deepening the problems and create possibilities for him to be a great ballstriker. All because he never underwent macro procedures. I claim that without them he will never be able to fulfill his goals (however, most probably he will be able to tie or surpass Snead's record somehow being so close to it). In the next article I will do a sample hypothetical macro analysis of Woods just to show how much was left to do in his case.
Sunday, 2 February 2014
The "secret" is very simple though it require some deeper knowledge in anatomy and physics. When a golfer wants to power the motion and literally jumps off his shoes it is a result of subconscious atavistic action of releasing the primary ground forces, i.e. vertically oriented ones. He uses only "the tibial power" transmitted to his lead foot via the big toe (plus the other two closest to it) and medial arch spring. The action relocates the mass dynamically directly from the big toe to the outside of the foot. We can see jumping action and lead knee early extension as a result (of course also the opposite problem exists -- i.e. keeping the lead knee flexed too long resulting in a pivot stall but this is quite another story).
The cure would concentrate instead on engaging the lateral part of the foot and two last toes and keeping both arches in not elevated position starting from the medial to lateral one. We can observe a sort of a common denominator of the greatest ballstrikers who use all toes and splashing both arches into the ground in the downswing phase. Moreover, I have recently observed simultaneously with formulating the thesis that the lead foot of some of the best ballstrikers in the history of golf appears to relocate its position (moving a bit to the North, or more precisely said, a little bit North-West-- because of the flare angle -- assuming we are facing North while standing over the ball) while attempting to subconsciously release both arches sequentially and activate the two last ones to release the lateral arch. It is of utmost importance.
How to automate this action ? It was not easy to find a reliable answer. After a big dose of watching the motions of these of the great ballstrikers who had this lead foot forward move I suddenly noticed that some of them seemed to extend their big toe somewhen in the backswing phase. I experimented quite a lot and it can be stated beyond any doubt that our subconscious mind never lets the toes be in extension after replanting the lead foot on transition no matter which toe it is. We need simply to get rid of the big toe while letting the rest of toes work properly helping to work both arches of the foot. Recent studies on lower leg muscles show that the abductor hallucis muscle -- which is responsible for big toe abduction -- plays crucial role in elevating the medial arch of the foot. It means that when we try to separate the big toe from the rest of toes as much as possible we elevate the medial arch at the same time. Moreover, big toe abduction goes hand in hand with its flexion and viceversa -- while we extend the big toe (moving it up) it is much easier to adduct it, i.e. to move to the middle of the foot and put it on the other toes.
Moreover, the whole action of the lead foot big toe aimed at limiting the elevation of the medial arch is luckily very compatibile with pronation of the lead foot that accompanies its correct motion during the backswing ending with rolling the foot on the inner edge and letting the outside of the lead heel contact with the ground if necessary. The replanting brings inevitably all the toes (to an extent except the big toe that also tends to flex and press on the second toe even while being elevated) into flexion when all of them press the ground that is what we desire actually. We succeed in limiting the role of the big toe and "tibial jumping" power and, simultaneously, achieved a pefect base necessary for such a dynamic action of such a relatively small base the foot is.
After releasing the kinetic chain, of course the lead foot can move freely as a result of releasing forces and performing different actions just from ordinary light version of foot supination up to losing entire contact with the ground (common with hard swinging golfers) depending on various factors.
Last but not least, it is really worth to experiment with toes; famous golf pros did this and although they sometimes drew a bit different conclusions leading to different actions from a pure anatomical point of view (e.g. Snead's all toes of both feet in extension, Hogan's and O'Grady's lead foot toes put into extension once, Miller's extending the lead foot toes in fast cycles just before trigger, Elkington's curling lead foot big toe at setup -- just to name a few) they surely did not regret paying attention to this subject.
Watch this vid and observe carefully lead foot actions performed by true greats of yesteryear -- enjoy actions that one cannot barely see any more on the Tour nowadays: